Should I Refer My Daughter to a Growth Specialist? She Hasn't Fully Developed?

Updated on September 01, 2017
O.J. asks from Bowie, MD
15 answers

My daughter is 19 and a half. She had her period a month after her 12th birthday and has gotten it ever since. She stoppped growing at age 13 but in the last few months she's grown about an inch. My main concern is that she hasn't developed into a womanly body at the age she is. Her body size looks like she's in middle school as her arms are fairly skinny/she would look silly in adult clothing. She was born prematurely at 32 weeks 3 lbs but I've met some preemies who might be short/skinny but look like developed grown adults not a 12 year old. Does calories have anything to do with her development? She's been eating about 1400 calories since she was in middle school but she's had her period so she's behind in growing out of a child like body but at almost 20? She was about 4'11 at 13. She's 5 ft 1 now. She developed pubic/armpit hair at the expected age and is small chested/has been filling out at age 17 but has gone through the stages at the correct times. She's been gaining weight gradually but never suddenly gained 20 pounds in a few months and had that growth spurt where she turned into a woman. She always gets mistaken for a middle schooler. She's not just tiny the sleeves are way too big for even petite clothing bc she looks like a child. Her doctor says she's fine but I don't know. Anyone that looked like a child in college and then suddenly looked like a woman in their 20s even though they had their period at 12 or so?

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

I'm similar to your daughter although taller. Look around at all the different types of women...not all women get a "womanly" body. I'm 46 and I'm thin, small chested, and have zero curves. It's just a body shape. I didn't take after my mother at all...she is large chested and womanly in body shape...and unfortunately she is a little vain about it. One of my sisters is the same way but also very short. Don't you know any short thin women? She can go to an endocrinologist if she is concerned, but I don't think you can really do anything about it...especially now that she is no longer a child. PS - Have you noticed all the women gymnastics stars are all about 5 feet tall and tiny?! Sometimes there are some real advantages to being small!

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I've always heard that most girls stop growing when they get their period. So it's no surprise that she only grew a little bit after age 13. A friend of mine was the tallest girl in the entire elementary school in 5th grade at 5 feet tall - and she's still that same height. She made the most of it - she was the flyer on the cheerleading squad.

Healthy people can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

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D.D.

answers from Boston on

I was always waiting for the last growth spurt but it just never happened for me. I was very petite (size 3 wedding ring) and couple easily wear kids t shirt and jeans into my 20's. I would get carded at the liquor store and people would always comment about what a great big sister I was when I was lugging around my own kids. My oldest and youngest daughters are the same.

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes so I'm going to guess that you daughter is just a petite girl who has grown into a petite woman. If this bothers her then she can look into it but please encourage her to love herself just the way she is. Kids clothes now are very fashionable and with the internet available the choices for a tiny woman looking like a professional woman are endless.

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T.D.

answers from Springfield on

my mother in law and her mother both are small like they can go to the kids clothing department to find clothing that fits

if her dr is not concerned the you need to let it go. you could have a private conversation with her dr about it to learn how her body image is accepted and that medically shes ok to be on the smaller size. but she is an adult now and her medical information is between her and her dr. she would have to sign something saying they can share the information with you.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

If you're that worried, then sure, have her see an endocrinologist. That said, I know several women who have very petite figures and could be mistaken for adolescents. They're all healthy, have children of their own, but are just small people. One teaches first grade and some of the students are taller and weigh more than her by the time they're in 3rd grade. Are there small people in your family?

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

I am 5'2" tall and was 5'2" tall when I was 13 years old. Some women have small breasts, some are flat chested, that doesn't mean they didn't develop normally, it just means their body type is different than somebody who has a large chest. Trust your doctors, and stop telling your daughter she looks like a middle schooler or you're going to make her have extremely low self-esteem.

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

Why has she not been to the Dr. before she turned 18?

You do know that if she goes to the Dr. now.... because she is over 18, you are left completely out of conversations, diagnosis, etc unless she insists you are with her, HIPPA papers are signed and you get permission.

My daughter is 22 and since she turned 18, I can't even make an appointment for her and certainly get no feedback from the Dr unless she specifies that I do. This sounds so simple but my child had a heart condition suddenly and I had problems getting info I needed for her because she was over 18.

I really hope you get her to a Dr that will work with BOTH of you.

See a specialist NOW vs later. I don't understand why anyone would wait on something so serious as safety and health when it comes to their own child.

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B.W.

answers from Oklahoma City on

Please take her to an endraconologist, a specialist in growth problems.

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M.6.

answers from New York on

This is something that should have been discussed with her doctor in her early teens. If she feels right now that her development is unusual, she would have to make her own appointments as she is an adult. Additionally, once a person has hit puberty, it limits the action they can take regarding potential growth options if there is a problem.

That said, I will say that she sounds very much like me and my growth, other than I am a bit taller than her. I started menstruating at around 12, hit all other milestones regarding puberty on time, and stopped growing taller at 13. I was very thin and and not "round and curvy" at all - even my waist/hips were perfectly straight, like a young teen, well into my twenties. I never "suddenly gained 20 lbs". I wore a size zero (but easily could have shopped in the girls section) even after I had my first two kids. When I got pregnant with my first daughter, I weighed 98 lbs. Co-workers would call me "Annie" (for anorexic) behind my back even though I ate just fine, because of my size. There wasn't anything wrong with me and no doctor ever seemed concerned about my size or my weight.

She sounds healthy, her doctor says she is fine, I guess if she is concerned, she will need to seek medical attention.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

Your daughter is 19 so she is in charge of her own health and medical decisions at this point, unless she is developmentally disabled in some way or needs a guardian. I'm surprised that her pediatrician never referred you to a specialist, such as an endocrinologist. This should never have been allowed to go on this long with no second opinion.

This isn't about calories, and I doubt it's about her being premature. I'd contact a good women's center or a major hospital with a team of specialists to evaluate her. Actually, I'd suggest it to her because she has to make the calls and the appointments. But if she's not concerned, then it's out of your hands now that she is over 18.

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K.C.

answers from Anchorage on

Have you discussed this with her doctor?

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

Usually it runs in families. I looked like a boy until I had babies. My pregnancy belly was the first curve I'd ever had.

My sister in her fifties can pass for a teenager from behind, easily. We're just small and that's our body type.

I never had that growth spurt you mention.

I wouldn't be concerned. Some people are just very lean and don't have an hourglass shape.

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J.C.

answers from Philadelphia on

I have a friend in her 50's that doesn't have a "womanly" body. Your daughter's doctor is not concerned. Don't make her self conscious about her looks.

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

At 19, I'm not sure what can be done but it probably doesn't hurt to see what a specialist can say.
A lot of girls won't gain any height after 16 or 17 yrs old.
Boys can gain height sometimes into their early 20's.
How tall are you and your husband?
My best friend in high school had a mom who was 5ft tall and my friend was one of 7 kids.
Being short didn't stop her from having a large family - and all her kids were taller than she was.
Also - at 19 she still has a young adults metabolism.
By her late 20's keeping weight off will be harder - she'll likely gain some then.
Looking young can be annoying when you are an adult and don't look it (you get carded forever) - but it turns out to be nice when you hit your 50's and look like 30's.
A curvy look isn't everything and it all starts to sag eventually.

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V.F.

answers from San Francisco on

Take her to a growth specialist, listen mom's can't always go by their Drs he/she may be a good Dr but your daughter needs the opinion of a specialist, your Dr doesn't know that area and we can't rely on our Drs as always a good source of information in areas they don't practice in.

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